During the summer of 1987, Disism directed its compositional techniques deep into the realms of improvisation. On August 9th, the duo engaged in an all-day improvisational recording marathon, putting their stalwart Frippertronic tape loop system through a substantial workout. Several sound samples from broadcasts of the Iran Contra hearings, which had been a daily staple during that summer, were injected into their sonic sculptures and gave a theme of sorts to the overall recording session. Goff listened to the tapes for weeks afterward to determine how to present the session to the public, and on October 11, 1987, the master for “60 Seconds Left” was mixed down into its final form.
The following list of “Instruments” was included on the cassette’s jcard, which is also included in this archive:
60 Seconds Left became one of Disism’s most popular releases and still gets the attention of listeners today. In 1988, Nathan Griffith reviewed the tape for Option Magazine thus:
“Disism, using the misadventures of Reagan and capitalist society as fodder for sonic assault, mesh the reality of American political action with the din of electronic collage to create a collection of sounds which confuse and seduce the listener. The technique involves the combination of electronically treated instrumentation, group vocals, and the occasional rhetorical panderings of prominent officials. The dense combination of sounds coagulate into a milky whole, as words come and go without the time or clarity required for acknowledgement. The absurdity of what is said becomes a part of the entire situation, and all is reduced to a confusion that becomes the hallmark of the entire tape.”
In 2002, Jerry Kranitz of Aural Innovations gave the tape (then converted into a 2 disk CD format) this retrospective review:
“All the music on these discs was recorded on the same day though the result is two very different sets of music. Disc 1 opens with a wild cacophony of block percussion, wailing space electronics, drones, and a seemingly endless but well concocted blend of sounds. There are song titles but the whole CD plays as one continually evolving track. The liner notes list a slew of instruments and toys, though electronics and guitar seem to predominate. It's aggressive stuff indeed, and while the music is often harsh it's not in a grating noise based way. Imagine a collaboration between Tangerine Dream and The Residents with both Manuel Göttsching and Fred Frith on guitar (that'd be something huh?). The Kosmiche factor is high but it's all firmly in the experimental realm. But after a while the cosmic themes take a breather and a more collage like sound sculpture section kicks in that also displays some avant-prog influences. And of course there are moments when all these elements come bashing together. Overall, chaos reigns, but what makes this such an enjoyable listen is that the music develops smoothly and seamlessly with such a wild and varied blend of sounds and activity that it held my attention the entire time.
Disc 2 is a very different set, opening with tribal chanting, babbling, mad laughter, and haunting growls. Some of the voices have a Residents "Eskimo" flavor, though Disism's approach places the Eskimos in something of a carnival setting... and boy are they having fun. Once again we're treated to one continuous track, and of course nothing stays the same for long as the voices fade and the music transitions to a free-improv guitar and electronics excursion set against a dark atmospheric backdrop. The space element eventually returns but it has more of an avant-garde textural free-improv feel than heard on the first disc, though structurally the music does at times jam along like the great old time Krautrock albums used to.
Overall, this is one hell of a good fun set of avant-garde space jams and sound sculptures. And popping up intermittently are samples from the Iran-Contra hearings, indicating that 60 Seconds Left is something of an indictment of the Reagan years. “
All 90 minutes of 60 Seconds Left are presented in this archive:
1 60 Seconds Left
2 Tales Of The Great White North
3 Only Following Orders
4 Hymn Of The Swiss Bank Account
5 Contra Mantra
7 Resignation Boogie
8 Let's Take A Ride In The Automobile